As people find themselves spending more time at home, it can be easy to get a bit of cabin fever. One way to combat this is to leave the house for a daily walk. The benefits of daily and consistent physical activity are well known but how much walking is enough? Many of us have heard that people should have a goal of 10,000 steps a day. This may have become a popular concept after the FitBit seemed to show up on everyone’s wrists. According to FitBit, “ Fitbit starts everyone off with a 10,000-step goal, and here’s why: It adds up to about five miles each day for most people, which includes about 30 minutes of daily exercise—satisfying the CDC’s recommendation of at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week .” However, we know that everyone has different needs. Thirty minutes of exercise for one person may not have the same intensity as thirty minutes of exercise for the next person.
So how can you determine your walking goals? The first step is to find out how much walking you already do in a day. If you work and your job requires a lot of movement you may be surprised to learn that you are already hitting 10,000 steps every day. Or if you sit at a computer most of the time, it may be the case that you’re not getting the assumed baseline amount of steps most people get, which is around 3,000. The easiest way to find out how much you typically walk in a day is with a pedometer or fitness tracker. A basic clip-on pedometer is an inexpensive little gadget that just tracks your steps and not much else. Some health insurance companies even offer them for free. Of course, many people opt for other wearable technology such as a FitBit or using their Apple Watch. Either way, you will be able to easily count the number of steps you usually take without any added exercise.
Once you determine your baseline number of steps, try adding a small brisk walk one day and see how many steps you’ve added to your baseline. Work yourself up to 30 minutes of walking, a little bit at a time if needed. Once you achieve 30 minutes of walking beyond your normal everyday activity, the number of total steps you have in that day will be your initial goal number to maintain. If you want to go beyond this goal, try adding in 1,000 steps every two days, if that is comfortable. According to the CDC, thirty minutes of extra activity a day, five days a week, can create enough of a calorie deficit to lose half a pound a week if all other factors remain the same. It can also promote a healthier heart, and lower the risk for diabetes and high blood pressure. So while the world is stuck at home, as long as you practice safe social distancing guidelines for your area, now is the perfect time to start a new daily walking routine.
Rosenbaum, L., Brendan, Moore, J., Mary, Linda, Rupali, . . . Quick Recipe For A Healthier & Happier Week. (2019, September 13). Should You Really Take 10,000 Steps A Day? Retrieved May 20, 2020, from https://blog.fitbit.com/should-you-really-take-10000-steps-a-day/
Rieck, T. (2020, March 23). 10,000 steps a day: Too low? Too high? Retrieved May 20, 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/10000-steps/art-20317391